Tag - Marriage

Having an Open Mind

Getting married is a huge, life changing, event. We can spend years searching for the perfect person to be our other half. And for some of us, we’ve spent even longer dreaming about who this person will be. We’ve imagined every single detail about him/her and we plan on settling for nothing less than the ideal version of a spouse that we have conjured up. Considering how much this person will impact our lives, why should we?

Allah (swt) controls the matters of the heart and it truly is beautiful to see it in progress. The whole reason we got into Muslim Matchmaking was to do our part in helping the Ummah pair up! Hearing the success stories of those who found their other halves through HOD is beyond rewarding. You would be surprised to hear how many of these stories begin with; “I would have never thought of considering this person due to age/race/relocation issues but I can not be happier that I did”. By keeping an open mind and taking a chance on someone who did not seem to be the ideal match at first they were able to see deeper into who the person really is; ultimately finding their ideal spouse.

This is not to say that preferences do not matter when looking for a spouse. However, getting to know someone offers you insight into them that simple statistics on paper can not provide. So for example, on paper you might dismiss someone because they do not fall into the ideal age bracket for you. Instead, had you given them a chance and gotten to know them you might find that they are compatible with you and the fact that they are slightly older/younger than what you had in mind does not bother you as much as you thought it would. The same thing can be said for any number of characteristics that are used to determine who a valid match may be.

The truth is, when it comes to matters of the heart there is no way to predetermine where it will lead us. A lot of times chemistry and compatibility can be found with the most unlikely of suitors. And while, no one should ever marry someone they are not attracted to or do not feel is right for them they should likewise never turn a person down simply because they do not seem to line up with the image they have set. Instead, one should give them a chance. Get to know them. And who knows you may be surprised to find out that you have more in common than you could have imagined.

Common Mistakes Newlyweds Fall Into

You’ve spent months searching for your special someone. Now that you’ve finally found them you promise yourself that you will cherish the relationship and make it a priority in your life. There is no way you want to mess this up!

What we fail to realize is sometimes the mistakes we make in our relationships are not intentional; they sort of creep up on you when you are least expecting it. So what are some of these common mistakes and how can we avoid them as Newlyweds?

Taking your spouse for granted
One of the easiest mistakes to make after marriage is to take your spouse for granted. Once the excitement of the wedding and the honeymoon phase are gone the grind of of our day to day lives kick in. Each of the spouses fall into their designated roles and the wooing comes to a cease.

The remedy for this is simple—dedicate a set amount of time each week to do something special for or with your spouse. It could be a date night where you both put all other stresses behind you and focus on enjoying each others company. Or it could be that you surprise them with a trip to the spa (for the wife) or sporting event (for the husband). It could even be something as simple as leaving them a note in a place you know they will find or sending them a text message that reminds them how much you love and care for them (rather than reminding them to pick up milk on the way home!) What truly matters is that they should feel that the gesture came from the heart.

Failing to appreciate your spouse
Every person expresses love in a different way. So while you might express it through giving gifts your spouses version of expressing love may revolve around doing things for you. While another person may feel/express love through spending time with their spouse. And yet another might find it in touch and require extra hugs, cuddling, and intimate time in order to feel loved. So when two spouses feel and express love in different ways (for example: one of them constantly gives the other gifts hoping the other spouse will do the same while the other spouse is constantly freeing up time to spend with them hoping they will do the same) they may end up feeling unappreciated.

While you might not know what language of love your spouse responds to right away by observing and speaking to them about it you will be able to figure it out. Once you do make sure to appreciate and reciprocate the things they do that you know mean a lot to them.

Failing to listen and compromise
It can be a difficult transition from being the only one to make decisions for yourself to doing it as a unit. Sometimes this leads to not fully listening to your spouse. Instead of paying attention to what they truly mean it’s easy to hear what is superficially being said. In turn this can lead to a lack of compromise.

When an issue arises that you both do not agree on take the time to talk it through calmly. Figure out the points you are not willing to budge on and ask your spouse to do the same. Then, with a clear head see how both of your views can be reconciled.

Not living your own life
Just as it is important to make decisions together and consult each other in your daily lives it is also important to maintain a level of individuality. It is alright to have interests that your spouse does not partake in as long as you give them enough time as well. Being married does not mean that you have to give up every aspect of your per-marital life. In fact, it is healthy for both of you to have some time apart to participate in activities separately or to hang out with friends alone.

Cultivating Healthy Relationships–Imam Khalid Latif

Imam Khalid Latif has a reflection series being published on the Huffington Post during the month of Ramadan. Yesterday’s post [Ramadan Reflection Day 14: Marriage, Dating and Cultivating Healthy Relationships ] discussed the importance of knowing how to cultivate healthy relationships. This is one of our goals here at half our deen. Not only by providing a service that allows you to find out information about your potential spouse and get them well in an Islamic manner but also through our educational videos. In these videos Baba Ali uses his own experience in marriage as well as extensive research on the topic to help us understand the other gender a little bit better.

After you read Imam Khalid Latif’s post below be sure to share your opinions in the comments section and let us know how Half Our Deen can do an even better job in this department.

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I find myself often having a familiar conversation with many young men who are about to get married. One of the first times it happened, I was approached by a guy after I had given a lecture at an Islamic Conference in the United States. He was pretty tall and well put together, but there was a certain anxiety about him. He asked if we could speak in private and when we were out of earshot of most he said he was getting married in a few weeks and needed my help with something. I congratulated him and said I’d be happy to help out. He said his upbringing was such that he never really had a relationship with a girl before and now, with his wedding coming up, he felt like he was expected to go from having no experience in even talking to a girl to being physically intimate with one. The only thing he knew for certain was that he didn’t feel ready or comfortable and had no idea what to do about it.

Most of us find ourselves in similar situations at some point or another. Whether it’s in the context of marriage or something more simple and day-to-day, it’s really confusing for a lot of us as to how we’re supposed to interact with the opposite gender. Questions that arise don’t really ever get asked because of an absence of people to ask them of. Those that do get asked tend to not really get answered in a way that takes away confusion. If anything, it just adds more to it.

I’ve found myself asked on many different occasions by young women, “Isn’t it haraam (religiously impermissible) for boys and girls who are not mahram (individuals that one cannot marry) to talk to each other?” I respond, “Aren’t you talking to me right now?” Usually the woman will follow-up and say, “What do you mean?” To which I say, “I don’t know if you realize it, but I’m a boy.” I’ll then ask her, along with the audience what the word haraam means and more often than not, most people don’t really know, resulting a in a big mess of misunderstanding.

For many Muslims, growing up, the idea is plain and simple — you’re not supposed to interact with the opposite gender unless there is a need. Words like “professional” and “formal” get thrown around in how gender interaction “should” be, which for a 13-year-old is probably not the best word choice. After we get older, it tends to not be so plain and simple, but by that time it’s more problematic because we were never really able to normalize an understanding, and are now in a place where we don’t know things that someone should have sat down and taught us as children. This is not just from the standpoint of not doing something, but helping our young people be smart about decisions they make. Many young women that I’ve spoken to who have had pregnancy scares or young men that have developed illnesses could have been avoided if in their learning process someone spoke to them about relationships in a way that was relevant to their lives, not just with a sweeping statement of “stay away from all boys.”

“And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another…..”
The Holy Qur’an (9:71)

The fundamental component of our community is the family unit, and in order for the family unit to be successful and healthy, there has to be a solid communication between the husband and wife. Expectations of what I’m looking for and what I need in a marriage aren’t ever properly understood because I haven’t really figured it out that well. Lectures and classes that I attend on marriage, gender interaction, and things as such seem to not really take into consideration the reality of my life, but the speaker or instructor continues to talk as if what they are saying is what Islam definitively says. I just end up getting more confused.

I spoke at a conference once on a marriage panel in which one of my co-panelists told that audience that in finding a potential spouse, your family will always make the best decision for you and will be able to introduce you to people, so it’s not necessary to go out and find someone yourself. As I bit my tongue and gathered myself, I was approached by a young woman afterwards who said she herself was confused by what the speaker was saying. Her issue stemmed from the fact that her family doesn’t even like her being Muslim, let alone them knowing any Muslims. So how does she deal with what this man is saying in the the context of her life?

A lot of what we understand about gender and topics relevant to it comes mostly from a male voice, whether that male voice is coming from a female or male mouth. Adding perspective in can help deepen our understandings so that we realize the impact that our conversations actually are having on people day-to-day. What we need is more people to explain at all levels of development what gender means, and along with it how gender interaction works. Conversations that help men, young and old understand the overall experience of being both male and female, and similar conversations for women of all ages. That perspective can also be broadened by having more open discussions as opposed to lectures and panels. Talk to the people in your community about what it means to them to be son or daughter, a husband or wife, a father or mother, a professional, a student, a divorcee, a widow, a survivor, a leader, and everything in between. We can learn a lot from hearing other people’s stories — it’s a learning method we don’t really use so much.

Personal development seminars that speak to the needs of a growing population looking for help in simply knowing how to talk to the opposite gender would be great. These should be lead by someone who isn’t regurgitating ideas that I heard at 15 and now at 35 don’t make sense to me. Hearing from real life experience as well as individuals that can help me develop self-esteem and confidence in myself to keep moving forward would be helpful. Most of us don’t know what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like and what processes lead to the development of one. Some of us have come from homes where we didn’t have model relationship to learn from. We saw a lot of fighting, anger and stifled communication. We didn’t see expressions of love or giving of gifts. We saw double standards for how sons were treated in comparison to daughters. We didn’t know how to separate culture from religion and vice versa. As a result, we don’t know where compromise makes sense or where we should stand firm. We don’t know what we are supposed to be looking for or how to go about finding out. Simply put, we don’t know what we’re supposed to do or what challenges to expect.

This is not an issue that simply will work itself out, it has to be worked out. Healthy relationships are key to healthy living and healthy communities. If I don’t know how to interact with the opposite gender, I’m already starting out on a shaky first step. If you are going through this, it’s not your fault. Someone should be there to sit down with you and explain to you how these things work. Hopefully as we grow and learn from each other, we will be able to figure this out as well.

Check out The Huffington Post’s Ramadan liveblog updated daily with spiritual reflections, blog posts, photos, videos, and verses from the Quran. Tell us your Ramadan story.

 

Follow Imam Khalid Latif on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KLatif

Being a Better You

One of the topics that comes up a lot when marriage is discussed is how it will help you be a better person. How after marriage half your deen will be completed and you will be more whole. And while this is true, to a certain extent, this improvement and development needs to begin before marriage.

The best way to find a spouse that will bring love and happiness into your life is to strive to be the best version of you or by being a better you. What is important here is that you don’t strive to be the version you think others will be most interested in. Instead, you stop trying to be something your not and focus on improving who you really are.

If there are people in your life that influence you in the wrong way or who do not bring out the good in you, now would be the time to distance yourself from them. This can be an extremely hard task however it is an important step in freeing yourself from negative influences in your past and allowing yourself to grow and mature. It is also a step in the right direction in putting yourself first and focusing on what will help you succeed.

In order to succeed in a future relationship you have to to forgive yourself for past mistakes and not be afraid to make more. No human is perfect. If you expect perfection from yourself and constantly compete with others you will never be satisfied with what you have accomplished. So let go of your ideals of perfection. Embrace the challenges that are thrown at you. Use them as learning experiences instead of potential failures.

Learn to take a break and enjoy the small moments in life. It’s amazing how much happiness you can gain by appreciating actions or experiences that may otherwise be overlooked. Society teaches us that happiness comes from materialistic things and other people, whereas the reality is if you are not happy with yourself you will not be happy with anything.

Above all else, be grateful to Allah (swt) for all the blessings in your life. Just the fact that you woke up today seeing is more than many others can say. So, stop worrying and stressing and instead put your trust in Allah (swt). And continue working on yourself until your other half comes along!

The Problem with Parents

Parents and children clashing is not something new. Even if both were raised in the same country, with the same values, and the same way of life just being from two different generations causes them to view the world differently. When you add to the generation difference that a large number of Muslim parents are immigrants it makes the differences in life views all the greater. It comes at no surprise then that the topic of marriage is often a heated debate between children and parents in Muslim households.

The most common issue that arises is when parents and their children have opposing views on who a suitable spouse is. Often times the parents have a hard time letting go of their cultural preferences and view it as their right/job to choose a spouse for their offspring. Whereas, the son/daughter feels that they know who will be most compatible for them and feel that it is their choice to choose who they would like to spend the rest of their life with.

When going through these issues with parents, especially when it involves a religious son/daughter vs. a more cultural parent, is important to keep a couple of things in mind.

1) Our parents have immense amount of rights upon us. So even when we disagree with them and oppose them we must do so with good manners and respect.
2) Don’t be completely closed off to your parents input. It’s easy to drown out everything they have to say when you feel you are on opposite sides. Instead, listen to what they are saying and try to reach a middle ground.
3) Giving in to their demands is not a solution either. In Islam you have the right to choose your spouse. If your parents are not willing to listen to you then try approaching someone they respect to speak to them on your behalf.
4) Don’t forget the power of duaa. When it comes to finding your other half and getting your family to accept them, duaa can go a long way.

So, while it is true that we have a right to choose a spouse based on our personal preferences and specifications we should also respect our parents’ input as they have more experience in life than us. They also have rights upon us and deserve our respect and honor even if we disagree with them. At the end of the day, a parent just wants their child to be happy and while they may remain stubborn on their opinion and oppose yours they will eventually come around to accepting your stance on the matter.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Ask any parent what the most frustrating part of going on a road trip with kids is and they’ll probably say it’s the none stop questions of “Baba! Are we there yet?!” and “ Mama! How much longer till we get there??” These are questions that we’ll hear from our kids countless of times and ones we probably asked our parents more times than they’d like to remember. Children are so focused on their destination and the fun they’ll have there that they miss out on the adventure leading up to it. We attribute this to the fact that children lack patience but in reality it’s just human nature. When we are focused on something we want we often ignore the other good things in our life.

The journey to get married is not always an easy one. Some people face great hardships not only in finding a spouse but maybe even financially or family wise. And while these hardships might make you feel like it isn’t meant for you or it will never happen they are, inshaAllah, there to lead you to the right spouse, in the right time, who will be your other half in this life and your partner in Jannah (inshaAllah).

One mistake that a lot of us do when we are looking to get married is live, breath, eat, and sleep marriage. It is the main topic when we are with our friends. It’s what our google searches revolve around. And it’s what our dreams are made of. Alhamdulilah, on Half Our Deen, many have gotten married within weeks of joining. Others take months. When this happens is not in our hands, but the effort we put in is. However, most people who join have already been searching for a while so the time can feel like it is dragging on and on and no progress is being made. So instead of being fully focused on this one goal we should try to spend this transitional time to better ourselves and work on being the best person we can be. Enjoy our time with family and friends. And focus our energy in ways that will enrich our life with our spouse (For example: memorize Quran, work on your career, take some extra classes, travel).

When things in life don’t play out exactly how we pictured them to it is easy to get discouraged and give up. Instead, let’s enjoy the journey so we can have exciting experiences to share with our spouse when that day comes. And let us always remember to seek help in our journey with lots of prayer, duaa, and patience for “Indeed, Allah is with those who are patient and persevere” [2:153]

Questions you should be asking your potential matches

There are no right or wrong questions to ask when you are looking to get married. What it boils down to is what is important to you. What lifestyle would you like to lead with your spouse? What qualities in a spouse would bring out the best in you? And what things could you compromise on without compromising your happiness?

One of the unique features of Half Our Deen is that it allows you create your own questions instead of simply asking standard ones. This grants you the advantage of being able to ask about what really matters right at the start and receiving answers from potential matches on these matters before you spend hours getting to know them!  Not only does this save you from wasting time it is also one of the ways that Half Our Deen keeps our system Islamic. That way, the only time you need to begin communication with someone is when you are serious about the chances of marriage and both believe that your views of life match up!

In order to use this feature efficiently make sure to spend some time thinking about 1) What matters to you, and 2) How your spouse will fit into these points. So for example, if you are willing to relocate for your spouse but it is still important for you to maintain strong ties with friends and family back home you could ask,  “If I relocate to your area how often would we take trips to visit my family?” That way you know ahead of time what to expect.

Even questions that might not seem important are worth asking. If you’re an avid foodie who enjoys experimenting in the kitchen your best match might not be someone who is perfectly content with traditional foods and has no desire to change! So ask what their food preferences are. Or if they are more comfortable eating gluten free or organic. While these issues might seem insignificant compared larger ones such as “Would our children attend Islamic Schools, public schools, or be home schooled?”, if it’s important to you it’s still worth asking.

Verifying a potential match’s identity

In Islam we are taught to acquire as much knowledge as we can about a potential spouse in order to feel confident about the decision to move forward with the marriage. This is even more true when the potential spouse is not from our area or someone that was introduced to us by a friend or family member. So how can you be sure of someone you meet through Half Our Deen?

1) Once you are seriously considering a match ask them for the contact information of family members, friends, or even their local Imam. No one will know them better than these people and you will able to get first hand knowledge of how they conduct themselves on a daily basis.

2) Another option that people have used is by gaining information through social media. Most people have accounts on sites such as twitter and facebook and they can be a way to see who their friends are, how they speak to others, and what type of manners they have.

3) Lastly, if you want more assurance on the identity of a person you can use people search and background check websites that will tell you everything from where they have lived to what their financial status is. One of the more respected sites that offer these services is www.ussearch.com.

After all, age really is but a number

My family and I recently relocated across the country. In the months leading up to the big move I spent hours and hours planning. But what I spent the most time doing for those 5 months was house hunting. I picked the neighborhood I wanted and then proceeded to try and find a house with ALL our specifications in that neighborhood. Two months passed and I still couldn’t find one that fit our criteria. But I was stubborn and determined to have everything I wanted in the location I wanted. Needless to say I failed. With less than a month left till moving day I finally relented and searched in other neighborhoods and Alhamdulilah, Allah (swt) blessed us with an amazing house in an amazing location.

So you’re probably wondering why I’m boring you with my moving diaries? Because as humans we create a precise picture of what we want (in a house, in a spouse, in our kids) and set out to full fill that picture. What we fail to realize is that real life and our imaginations don’t always line up. And just because we can’t find what we think we’re looking for doesn’t mean that what we really need isn’t out there.

One of the points that brothers and sisters looking to get married often get hung up on is the age of their potential spouse. Brothers usually want someone a few years younger than themselves and sisters want someone who is older than themselves. This idea of the perfect age gap in marriage is one of the first requirements that goes down on our spouse list and is often one that we have a hard time letting go of.

In reality though, having a “proper” age gap does not necessarily lead to a successful marriage or to a compatibility. In fact, if we were to look back at the most significant marriage of all times, that of the Prophet Muhammad (saws) to Khadija (ra), you will note that they had the most nontraditional of all age gaps. Yet, you will never find a more loving, compatible, supportive, and nourishing coupling than theirs despite the odd age paring.

Age is much like the neighborhood in my moving example. By holding onto that ideal and not looking or considering anyone outside of it you are limiting yourself from finding someone that fits you. Brothers, just because a sister is a bit older than your ideal match doesn’t mean she will be any less beautiful or righteous. And sisters, just because a brother is a bit younger than your ideal match doesn’t mean he will be any less mature, caring, and responsible. So let’s step out of our “neighborhoods” and see what Allah (swt) has for waiting for us!

Another Match Made on Half Our Deen! 314 and counting….

“Stories like this inspire me to continue making Half Our Deen better”, Baba Ali, Half Our Deen. 

Author: Nawal Shahril

Source: http://www.nawal.my/2012/04/how-i-met-your-father.html

How I met your father

To my future children. By the time you are able to read this post, I am probably in my late 30’s and still look gorgeous as ever.

This post is about a man who rocked Ummi’s world. A man whom I respect and hold on to. An amazing man who came to my life by surprise. Responsible and love his children more than his life. He loves us unconditionally. He is most proud of us although he doesn’t show it. He is our provider and our cheerleader. He is…

…your daddy.

I have met so many wonderful people. Travelled all around the world. Worked in a different country. Enjoyed every moment. I was living life. Amidst all these, I knew that there is still a missing piece in my life that I wasn’t sure what was it. I turned to Allah and did my Umrah, Alhamdulillah. It was in front of the majestic Ka’aba that I prayed and wished that Allah would lead a wonderful man to me to complete that emptiness and fulfill my deen.

How can I find myself a husband?
I turned to the world wide web for answers. Muslim matrimonial websites were my indicators. I remembered to have registered for 3 different sites. I must say I met very interesting brothers Masyaallah. Some didn’t work out. Some…almost. Some…just pain in the butt. Different individuals have different needs and expectations. Too much of expectations in fact.
But..no matter how devastated one situation after another can be, I didn’t give up. I know I have to find someone and have faith for Allah will help me.
One day when I surfed YouTube, I stumbled upon a video by Baba Ali and his matrimonial website called Half Our Deen. Knowing Baba Ali and his cool ways of giving da’wah, I thought why not give it a go. What I’ve noticed was I can’t view any of the brothers’s pictures unless I pay for the registration. Unlike other websites I’ve been to, some are free and some allowed you to view pictures prior signing up. I took out my debit card and I remembered saying ‘I’m doing this because of Allah’ and BAAM! I was registered.

Again… the process continues. In and out and after few attempts, I decided to shut down my account and just give husband hunting a rest. After a month, I checked HalfOurDeen again and I was surprised that my account was put on sleep rather than being deleted for good. Since my account was paid for 1 year service, I mustered all my strength and give it one more go.

Probably 5 minutes after, I received a message from a man that I wasn’t interested in replying at all. He messaged me before this when I had my account active. I was like ‘ Maan!, this man is damn persistent ‘ and decided to give him a chance. His name is Valentino Chavez (Vito) and the rest is history.
We talked for 7 months and I flew to the USA to meet this man of my dream. I had no idea what to expect. Whether he might be a serial killer or sex psychopath but I was sure I did the right thing. He told me, even though I would be ugly in person..he would still marry me. pffttt! (see how annoying daddy is???) I have prayed Istikharah and alhamdulillah I was sure about this man. With my parents and family’s blessing I was married by Imaam Karim Abu Zaid at Masjid Abu Bakr, Denver Colorado on March 7th, 2012.

Wow. I’m a wife??? Until now, I still couldn’t believe that I am finally… married! wooohoo!!

Married life is a new dimension. The other phase in life that you’d be tested vigorously by Allah s.w.t. Whether good or bad, just enjoy and endure it. No matter how hard the day could be..in the end you know your soulmate is waiting, arms open for you.

I am grateful that I married a super hunk awesome muslim man. A man who accepted me thoroughly. A man who introduces me to a whole new world and a new family.

I couldn’t have asked for more…except for an iMac and a craft studio 😛

Children, now you know how I met your father. In life, you have to believe in your decision and go get ’em. Be persistent and be ready to overcome any obstacles. Don’t you ever ever give up because the moment you feel that there’s no hope, all door closes and you might not get what you wanted. Have faith in Allah and Insyallah..Allah will show you the path.

and to my husband..I love you Sweetheart. May we be the best of Muslims and be a great role model for our children.

..and to Allah.. Thank you so much! You’re the best!